Sunday, July 15, 2007

mountain biking and a hot thermal bath

I arrived in Quito on Saturday afternoon. For the first time I flew west to east across South America – from Santa Cruz to La Paz to Lima to Quito. I went on Taca, which was a surprisingly pleasant and comfortable airline. I actually had several inches between my knees and the next seat – much better than the U.S. air companies I’ve been flying lately.

The scenery was quite fascinating – great views of mountains, and what seemed to be vast territories of harsh, brown landscape. The snow had disappeared in La Paz and it was again the dull, brown city in a brown landscape. Between La Paz and Lima, we also flew over high brown Andean mountains, rising towards the clouds. Lima also presented itself as a dull, dry and drab city (at least from the air), albeit with a nice airport. Then we approach Quito. And suddenly there are green fields, trees, mountains – a verdant land under a blue sky.

Someone commented to me that Ecuador is the ideal destination country because of the variety it offers – the ocean, the mountains, the jungle and the culture. While I also rate Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam very highly, I think it’s true. Ecuador has so much to offer and I’m glad to be here once again.

I took an adventurous bicycle trip, that involving starting out on a snowy 4,000
meter mountain peak, and bike down the Andes into the jungle, all in the rain. We warmed up with a fantastic thermal bath at the Papallacta pools, then headed for another ride down the Andes, heading toward Quito this time. Quite an adventure!

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